Despite union objections, Telkom has announced it is extending voluntary severance and early retirement packages to all employees, including those that belong to trade unions.
The decision to offer packages to all staff, included unionised employees, is “not one we took lightly”, said company spokesman Jacqui O’Sullivan.
“We did so not only in the best interest of the business but also in response to our people. Many Telkom employees have expressed a desire to take a [package] and to pursue a new path, outside of the company,” she said. “We have carefully considered the demand by organised labour to withdraw the initial invitations for non-unionised employees to apply for packages and we cannot agree to this.”
The move comes less than two weeks after Telkom suspended a section 189 retrenchment process under instruction from the labour court. It decided at the time to offer voluntary packages to all non-unionised full-time employees, but has now decided to extend the offer to unionised staff, too, despite objections from the unions.
It had always been Telkom’s intention to offer the voluntary packages, which the company has described as “generous”, to all employees.
About 60% of Telkom’s workforce is unionised. The three recognised trade unions are Solidarity, the South African Communications Union and the Communication Workers Union.
“Telkom met with organised labour on 21 July in an attempt to secure permission from organised labour to extend the [packages] to unionised Telkom employees. No progress was made,” O’Sullivan said.
“Telkom offered to meet again and agreed to a request by organised labour for the group CEO, Sipho Maseko, to attend. The meeting took place yesterday (23 July) and once again, despite long and robust discussions, no agreement was reached. The unions refused to allow their members access to the voluntary packages.”
Despite this, she said Telkom has received hundreds of applications for the packages from unionised employees. “We cannot ignore them. We believe that organised labour’s refusal to allow the invitation to be extended to union members is unreasonable, unfair and highly prejudicial to those union members,” O’Sullivan said.
“For that reason, Telkom has decided to extend the invitation to apply for … packages to all employees, including union members, with immediate effect. Their applications will be considered on the same basis as applications from employees who are non-union members.”
She said Telkom leadership has so far approved 96,3% of applications for voluntary severance and early retirement packages from non-unionised staff.
The closing date for applications is 27 July at 5pm. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media